What do reporters and radio hosts Terry Gross, Marty Moss-Coane and Dave Davies have in common? Besides being Philly’s most prominent public radio personalities, they were all born on Feb. 14. Yes, really.
“Yeah,” Davies said, cracking a smile. “Kind of freaky.”
The trio, who all work at Billy Penn’s parent company, WHYY, have known each other for a long time — long enough that they don’t remember when they discovered the shared Valentine’s birth date.
Gross is arguably the most well-known of the bunch. She started “Fresh Air” as a local broadcast in 1975, and a decade later it went national, eventually becoming one of NPR’s most successful shows.
“Fresh Air” was also how Moss-Coane got her radio start. A former school guidance counselor, she got a job as editor on Gross’ show in the ’80s, and then in 1987 branched off to host daily talk show “Radio Times.”
Davies is currently a “Fresh Air” contributor and fill-in host, but he previously had a four-decade career in political reporting. He first joined WHYY as an intern in his late 20s, left to work at KYW, spent two decades at the Philadelphia Daily News and then returned to WHYY in 2009.
“I guess if we’re triplets, I’m the oldest,” said Moss-Coane, turning 71.
Davies, now 67, said he’s noticed that he and his b’day mates are all pretty focused on work.
That was obvious earlier this week when Gross, turning 69, pushed through laryngitis to tape a show despite being on the way to losing her voice. She had to take a few days off, and might even have to miss the breakfast celebration her team planned.
“I hope to be able to go and I hope to go out to a nice dinner with my husband,” Gross said. “But if I’m still dealing with my sore throat, it will be a quiet birthday. Very quiet. Silent, maybe.”
Birthdays were more memorable when she was a kid, Gross said. “Now what I’ve come to expect is bad weather [and] restaurants over-crowded because it’s Valentine’s Day.”
Davies recalled one party in his late 20s when his 9-year-old niece became the makeshift bartender, fetching beers from a rooftop porch. “It wasn’t exactly what her parents thought they were getting her into,” he said. This year, he’s planning dinner and cake with his family.
For her 40th birthday, Moss-Coane traveled to NYC with her husband to see a wild, Off-Broadway production of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom. “I couldn’t even describe it to you. But it was a riot.”
Nothing like that this year, Moss-Coane said.
“The older I get, the more low-key I am about my birthday,” she added. “So I’m just happy to go out for dinner and have a bottle of wine and you know, enjoy my life.”
Davies, Gross and Moss-Coane aren’t into astrology, but the birthday triplets share some Aquarius traits. In addition to being intensely focused (see above), Aquarians are known as independent, deep thinking humanitarians.
“I guess that’s good enough to at least yak on the radio and have people not turn you off,” Davies said with a laugh.
“We’re all kind of children of the 60s,” Moss-Coane said. “So there’s probably something about the counterculture, giving back or trying to make a difference in the world.”